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A pregnant mom's diet impacts her infant's odor preferences and sense of smell

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In the Sacramento-Davis regional area, UC Davis studied back in 2005 how a pregnant mother's diet impacts her infant's senses, working with rats. In another study from the University of Colorado, Denver, published online in December 2010, that study,"Effects of in utero odorant exposure on neuroanatomical development of the olfactory bulb and odor preferences," Proc. R. Soc. B, December 1, 2010, examined how a pregnant mother's diet impacts infant's sense of smell, alters brain development.

Authors of that 2010 study are: Josephine Todrank, Giora Heth and Diego Restrepo. You can read news of that study in the December 6, 2010 Science Daily article, "Pregnant mother's diet impacts infant's sense of smell, alters brain development." The research showed that a pregnant mother's diet directly impacts an infant's food choices in the future.

Here, in the Sacramento and Davis area, in the 2005 UC Davis study, neurophysiologist Dorothy Gietzen studied the brain mechanism in rats that allows them to respond to nutritional stress

The biochemical mechanism that enables animals -- likely including humans -- to recognize when their diet is deficient in an essential amino acid had been identified then for the first time by researchers at the University of California, Davis. You may wish to see the March 17, 2005 UC Davis article, "Study Shows How Animals Sense When Food Lacks Amino Acids."

The findings by neurophysiologist Dorothy Gietzen and colleagues at UC Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine have implications for human health, particularly epilepsy, since some forms of epilepsy are influenced by amino acid deficiencies. That is because amino acids are the chemical units that the body uses to construct proteins for growth and development, according to that article. The study has appeared in the March 18, 2005 issue of the journal, Science.

The biochemical mechanism that enables animals -- likely including humans -- to recognize when their diet is deficient in an essential amino acid has been identified for the first time by researchers at the University of California, Davis

The findings by neurophysiologist Dorothy Gietzen and colleagues at UC Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine have implications for human health, particularly epilepsy, since some forms of epilepsy are influenced by amino acid deficiencies. That is because amino acids are the chemical units that the body uses to construct proteins for growth and development.

"This constitutes a basic, well conserved mechanism in the brain of mammals that allows them to respond to nutritional stress and seek out food that will improve their chances for survival," Gietzen said, according to the UC Davis news release. For more than five decades, scientists have known that animals have the ability to sense when their diet is not providing sufficient amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids found in animals, eight of them cannot be produced by or stored in the body and, therefore, must be obtained through the foods the animals eat. These eight are known as "indispensable amino acids."

Previous research has shown that animals can sense within a matter of minutes if their diet is deficient in an indispensable amino acid, making use of a subconscious sensing mechanism that does not depend on taste or smell

For example, if rats are offered more than one type of feed, and the first feed they try is deficient in an indispensable amino acid, they will soon switch to another feed that provides the necessary amino acids. Gietzen noted that animals ranging from single-cell organisms such as yeast, to invertebrates to humans, appear to have conserved this mechanism through evolution.

As a result, humans have developed cultural patterns that provide important dietary choices. For example, long before people even knew of amino acids, some cultures paired rice with beans or the soybean product tofu. These are protein-rich plant foods which, when eaten together, provide a full complement of all indispensable amino acids.

"This constitutes a basic, well conserved mechanism in the brain of mammals that allows them to respond to nutritional stress and seek out food that will improve their chances for survival," Gietzen said, according to that the UC Davis news release. For more than five decades, scientists have known that animals have the ability to sense when their diet is not providing sufficient amino acids.

Of the 20 amino acids found in animals, eight of them cannot be produced by or stored in the body and, therefore, must be obtained through the foods the animals eat. These eight are known as "indispensable amino acids."

Earlier research had demonstrated that the deficiency-sensing mechanism is headquartered in an area of the brain known as the "anterior piriform cortex," which is essential for behavioral responses such as those demonstrated by rats that stop eating a meal deficient in indispensable amino acids

Scientists also knew that living organisms have a system for using amino acids to build proteins. In this system, a molecule called transfer RNA carries the amino acids to the protein-synthesizing apparatus and may "interpret" the supply of amino acids for making proteins. When amino acids are available, the transfer RNA would be "charged" -- bound to an amino acid as well as to an important enzyme in order to start the protein-building process.

When an amino acid is not present, the transfer RNA is "uncharged." Earlier research with yeast suggested that an accumulation of uncharged transfer RNA initiates a signaling pathway that interrupts general protein manufacture.

Building on those findings, Gietzen and colleagues hypothesized that if uncharged transfer RNA provided the signal for deprivation of indispensable amino acids, the RNA also could create the same signal by inhibiting the charging process. To test this, they injected rats with alcohol derivatives of amino acids to stall the charging process and then measured the animals' food intake. They found that following the injections, the rats stopped eating an amino-acid-complete feed as if it were deficient in an amino acid.

Gietzen and her colleagues also demonstrated that the effect of the injection could be reversed

After the injection-related tests were performed, they offered the rats a "corrected" diet that had high levels of the amino acid that had been targeted by the injected amino acid alcohol. They found that the corrected diet reversed the effects of the injection, and the rats resumed eating.

The researchers further determined that the uncharged transfer RNA triggers the recognition of amino acid-deficient diets by affecting two genes. The first gene, known as GCN2, in turn, activates p-elf2a, which is crucial in the initiation of protein synthesis. In mammals, which cannot make their own essential amino acids, this signaling pathway alerts the neurons in the anterior piriform cortex area of the brain, so that the neurons can send a neurochemical signal to the animal's feeding circuitry in the brain. It is this signal that causes the rat to abandon a deficient feed and begin searching for something better.

"Results from this study define the signaling pathway that, in mammals, tells the animal to go and look for a better food," Gietzen said, according to the news release. "Such a well-conserved biochemical pathway underscores the basic importance in a multitude of biological systems of keeping a supply of the building blocks for proteins readily available."

Gietzen said, according to the UC Davis news release that the identification of this mechanism will likely have implications for research related to epilepsy, although that specific connection is not addressed in the Science paper. Earlier research in Gietzen's laboratory has shown that, in rats, dietary deficiencies in amino acids increase the severity of and susceptibility to seizures. Furthermore, the anterior piriform cortex is the area of the brain associated with neural "excitability" and the origin of seizures.

Co-authors on this study were Shuzhen Hao, James Sharp, Catherine Ross-Inta and John Rudell, from Gietzen's laboratory at UC Davis; Brent McDaniel, Tracy Anthony and Ronald Wek, from Indiana University School of Medicine; and Douglas Cavener and Barbara McGrath, from the University of Pittsburgh. The study's funders are the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Do humans sense whether their diet is deficient?

Previous research has shown that animals can sense within a matter of minutes whether their diet is deficient in an indispensable amino acid, making use of a subconscious sensing mechanism that does not depend on taste or smell. For example, if rats are offered more than one type of feed, and the first feed they try is deficient in an indispensable amino acid, they will soon switch to another feed that provides the necessary amino acids. Do you think human babies still in the womb also sense deficiencies in the mother's diet? How about how a human pregnant mother's diet influencing the infant's sense of smell?

A study at another university by different researchers, according to a December 1, 2010 news release from the University of Colorado, Denver, "Study shows pregnant mother's diet impacts infant's sense of smell," shows that a pregnant mother's diet impacts infant's sense of smell

Odors in womb sensitize fetus to smells, alters brain development. The major new study shows that a pregnant mother's diet not only sensitizes the fetus to those smells and flavors, but physically changes the brain directly impacting what the infant eats and drinks in the future. You also may wish to see the November 30, 2010 American Medical Network article, "Study shows pregnant mother's diet impacts infant's sense of smell."

"This highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet and refraining from drinking alcohol during pregnancy and nursing," said Josephine Todrank, PhD, who conducted the two-year study while a visiting scientist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, according to the University of Colorado's news release. "If the mother drinks alcohol, her child may be more attracted to alcohol because the developing fetus "expects" that whatever comes from the mother must be safe. If she eats healthy food, the child will prefer healthy food."

Researchers studying mice found that the pups' sense of smell is changed by what their mothers eat, teaching them to like the flavors in her diet

At the same time, they found significant changes in the structure of the brain's olfactory glomeruli, which processes smells, because odors in the amniotic fluid affect how this system develops. "This is the first study to address the changes in the brain that occur upon steady exposure to flavors in utero and early in postnatal life when the newborn is receiving milk from the mother," said Diego Restrepo, PhD, co-director of the Center for NeuroScience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and sponsor of the study, in the news release. "During these periods the pup is exposed to flavors found in the food the mom is eating." The research, he said, could have important public health implications.

"Many diseases plaguing society involve excess consumption or avoidance of certain kinds of foods," Restrepo explained in the news release. Restrepo is a professor of cell and developmental biology. "Understanding the factors that determine choice and ingestion, particularly the early factors, is important in designing strategies to enhance the health of the infant, child, and adult."

In her study, Todrank, now a research fellow with collaborator Giora Heth, PhD, at the Institute of Evolution at the University of Haifa, Israel, fed one group of pregnant and nursing mice a bland diet and another a flavored diet. At weaning age, the pups from mothers on the flavored diet had significantly larger glomeruli than those on the bland diet. They also preferred the same flavor their mother ate, while the other pups had no preference.

"Exposure to odor or flavor in the womb elicits the preference but also shapes the brain development," said Todrank, whose work was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and was published Dec. 1, 2010 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a major biological research journal.

"From the fetus' point of view, whatever is in the womb is considered "good"

If your mother ate it and survived to give birth to you then it was probably safe," she said. "This is a good strategy for a mouse that is foraging for food. It treats those same foods as safe." Due to the similarities in mammalian development, she said, according to the news release, there is no reason to think that experiments would produce different results in humans.

"What an expectant mother chooses to eat and drink has long-term effects – for better or worse – on her child's sensory anatomy as well his or her odor memory and food preferences in the future," Todrank said, according to the December 1, 2010 EurekAlert! news release. "It is not yet clear how long these changes and preferences last, but we are currently investigating that question." Also you may wish to see another article published December 1, 2010, from Nutrition Insight, "Study Shows Pregnant Mother's Diet Impacts Infant's Sense of Smell."

Negative emotions people may have suffered as young adults can have a lasting grip on their couple relationships, well into middle age

How do you decode the recipe for happiness? Early depression, anger may taint love life even 20 years later, a new study shows. A University of Alberta study, "Depression and anger across 25 years: Changing vulnerabilities in the VSA model," published in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, is helping to decipher the code to happiness by exploring the long reach of depression and anger over more than two decades. When it comes to decoding, one doesn't 'crack' the code, because cracking is criminal. One decodes or one deciphers, or if the code is technical, one back-engineers the code to understand whether the sum of its parts is equal to its whole entity. After all, depression is internalized anger. But do the same negative thoughts and emotions last a lifetime?

In the case of the new study, researchers followed 341 people for 25 years, and found that negative emotions they may have suffered as young adults can have a lasting grip on their couple relationships, well into middle age

The fact that depression and anger experienced during the teen years clung to people, even through major life events such as child-rearing, marriages and careers was surprising, said University of Alberta researcher Matthew Johnson, according to the May 7, 2014 news release, Early depression, anger may taint love life even 20 years later, study shows. "We assume or hope that high school experiences fade away and don't necessarily resonate 25 years later. The fact that symptoms of depression and expressions of anger can endure over many large events in life shows how important it is to deal with mental health early. Sometimes, problems don't just dissipate. How you grow and change over those early years becomes crucial to future happiness," said Johnson, an assistant professor of human ecology in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. What happens when anger, negative emotions, or depression (internalized anger) are followed by researchers over a period of at least 25 years?

The research, drawn from a larger study begun in 1985, surveyed 178 women and 163 men through their transition to adulthood from age 18 to 25, again on their perceived stress levels at age 32, and on the quality of their intimate relationships at age 43, to find out whether anger or depression they may have felt as young adults was still affecting those bonds.

Findings point to the importance of recognizing that early mental health does influence couple relationships and that in turn, can have social costs later on, such as divorce and domestic violence.

As individuals, people can help themselves by "recognizing the fact that where they are in their couple relationship now is likely shaped by earlier chapters in their lives," Johnson added. "It's not only your partner's current behavior or your current behavior shaping your relationship, but the story you bring with you." There's also an older study by different researchers, "Early childhood adversity and adolescent depression: the mediating role of continued stress."

A Mother's Day study on how and why we should celebrate that day

Also you may wish to check out the abstract of still another study, "How (and why) we should celebrate Mother's Day." That research asks how can experience feel slow on one timescale, yet fast on another? And is there something about raising children that generates or exaggerates the mismatch? A lot of people aren't happy with research suggesting that time appears to accelerate the older we get. Then again, for some older people with little contact from other people not contacted much by children or for those afraid of their own children, (not in the study) time seems to stand still, except as etched on one's face, hair, and energy or gait.

My how time seems to fly by when you're older

You can check out the abstract of another study, "Assessment of time perception: The effect of aging," about how fast time seems to fly by when you're older, especially when each day seems a lot like the day before, as in the movie, (not mentioned in the study) "Ground Hog Day." But, unlike that movie, in the study's abstract, researchers found that studies concerning time perception lack a validated assessment tool and a consensual “gold-standard” measure.

If you look at whatever research that exists on how time flies by as you get older, the present evidence suggests modification of timing with aging. In the study of time perception, the research aimed to develop and validate a neuropsychological tool to measure time perception and to study temporal perception with aging.

Eighty-six healthy participants, aged 15–90 years old, were asked to verbally estimate and produce empty intervals signaled by auditory beeps, of 7-, 32-, and 58-seconds duration. Two tests were used as “gold-standards”: estimation of the duration of time necessary to draw a clock (“clock time”) and estimation of the duration of neuropsychological evaluation (“global time”).

Results showed a correlation between estimation and production and a correlation between estimation or production and “global time”. The correlation between either estimation or production and age, suggested a faster “internal-clock” in the older participants. However, this finding lost significance when controlled for literacy.

The results suggest that these tests are potentially a useful tool to measure subjective perception of time. They also corroborate the hypothesis of a change in subjective time perception with aging. It was not possible to conclude if this effect was a specific result of aging or biased by the interference of literacy, the study's abstract explained. On another note, when you're waiting your turn for a medical or dental procedure that you're not looking forward to, and you experience time flying by, or you're waiting for it to end, that's one happy note if you're an older adult, because soon as it's over, there's the thought of the good times ahead.

FDA Doesn't Want You To Automatically Gulp Down an Aspirin Daily If You Didn't Already Have a Heart Attack

Remember how many times you heard on the news or from doctors (in general) to take an aspirin a day to prevent a heart attack? Often, over the years, doctors and/or the ads said, "a low-dose aspirin." Now the FDA says not to take that daily aspirin unless you already had a heart attack. You may wish to check out the article, "FDA Says Not To Take A Daily Aspirin If You Haven't Had A Heart Attack."

Or you can peruse the latest ScienceWorld Report, "Daily Dose of Aspirin may not be Safe for Everyone: FDA," appearing online May 7, 2014. Or see the May 5, 2014 article appearing on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products. The news appears in a variety of publications. The moral of this story is science changes with the times. A lot of money has been made selling daily aspirins to adults, especially the low-dose aspirins. The issue is now, whether or not you need aspirin, actually depends. And those who had a heart attack need to know what caused it, thick blood that clotted, unstable plaque, or an emotional experience? If it was an emotional experience, are your arteries clogged, too narrow, wide and open, or otherwise clean and functioning normally?

In the meantime, the FDA, US Food and Drug Administration's latest press release in its Consumer Updates section, "Can an Aspirin a Day Help Prevent a Heart Attack?" says that depends. Scientific evidence shows that taking an aspirin daily can help prevent a heart attack or stroke in some people, but not in everyone. It also can cause unwanted side effects.

Notice, you won't hear the government advising you to take other blood thinners found in food ingredients or supplements such as cod liver oil, resveratrol, vitamin E (all 8 parts), ginko biloba, aged garlic extract, or any other blood-thinning supplement or food extract. The FDA generally speaks for the majority of the public who don't read nutrition studies or books on which foods have medicinal qualities, but find the word 'aspirin' familiar from childhood or constant advertising as in the old adage attributed to doctors in the past "take two aspirin and call me in the morning." How different is that familiar saying from hearing "take one baby aspirin daily, if your doctors tells you to," heard repeatedly on TV, radio, and in print advertising for at least the past decade.

So whether a aspirin a day helps you ward off a heart attack or stroke depends on whether you already had a stroke or heart attack. And what kind of a stroke, an ischemic stroke from a blood clot or piece of broken-off plaque? Or is your blood so thin already that the stroke you had was caused by bleeding in the brain, a different type of stroke not caused by blood that's too thick? The answer the FDA has is that depends.

According to Robert Temple, M.D., deputy director for clinical science at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one thing is certain: You should use daily aspirin therapy only after first talking to your health care professional, who can weigh the benefits and risks. The only issue consumers may have with that is whether their doctors are trained in alternative foods and supplements that affect the blood in different ways, whether to thin or thicken.

Who Can Benefit?

"Since the 1990s, clinical data have shown that in people who have experienced a heart attack, stroke or who have a disease of the blood vessels in the heart, a daily low dose of aspirin can help prevent a reoccurrence," Temple says, according to the FDA's news release. (A dose ranges from the 80 milligrams (mg) in a low-dose tablet to the 325 mg in a regular strength tablet.) This use is known as "secondary prevention." However, after carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called "primary prevention." In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks—such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach—are still present.

Caution Needed With Other Blood Thinners

When you have a heart attack, it's because one of the coronary arteries (which provide blood to the heart), has developed a clot that obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Aspirin works by interfering with your blood's clotting action. Care is needed when using aspirin with other blood thinners, such as warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and apixiban (Eliquis).

What about people who have not had heart problems or a stroke but who, due to family history or showing other evidence of arterial disease are at increased risk? Is an aspirin a day a safe and effective strategy for them? Again, Temple emphasizes, the clinical data do not show a benefit in such people. He adds, however, that there are a number of ongoing, large-scale clinical studies continuing to investigate the use of aspirin in primary prevention of heart attack or stroke. FDA is monitoring these studies and will continue to examine the evidence as it emerges.

In the Meantime

The bottom line is that in people who have had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, daily aspirin therapy is worth considering. And if you're thinking of using aspirin therapy, you should first talk to your health care professional to get an informed opinion, Temple says, according to the FDA's news release.

Finally, how much aspirin you take matters. It's important to your health and safety that the dose you use and how often you take it is right for you. Your health care professional can tell you the dose and frequency that will provide the greatest benefit with the least side effects.

If your health care professional recommends daily aspirin to lower the risk of a heart attack and clot-related stroke, read the labels carefully to make sure you have the right product. Some drugs combine aspirin with other pain relievers or other ingredients, and should not be used for long-term aspirin therapy. If you're older than 65, there's the chance aspirin could cause stomach bleeding.

That's why it's necessary to find out what is the best solution for you and your health condition

For more information, check out articles such as, Before Using Aspirin to Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke, Here is What You Should Know, Use of Aspirin for Primary Prevention of Heart Attack and Stroke, or Aspirin for Reducing Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke: Know the Facts. If most HMO doctors are telling patients for years to take a daily aspirin, and suddenly the FDA says don't take a daily aspirin unless you already had a heart attack or stroke, you have to know what type of stroke: one caused by bleeding and too-thin blood?

Or is a blood clot caused by having too thick blood or unstable plaque moving around? And with a heart attack, did you already have one? If so, what caused it, hardened arteries, a blood clot, or an emotional experience on whistle-clean arteries? You need to know where you stand before you take any type of medicine.

On the other hand, you'll find because food is uncontrolled when used as medicine, you'll rarely hear about diet, holistic health alternatives, or how to use food or supplements as medicine. Then again, there's more money in medicine than in foods and various extracts, and some of them can lead to too much bleeding in people with naturally thin blood. That's why you need to find out where your health stands.

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